The Tiny Closet Challenge

I may be the only person to have this feeling, but I was a little bit sad to pack away my maternity clothes after each of my kids were born.

It was actually really nice being limited to such a small number of clothes that fit during pregnancy. I invested in a handful of decent maternity items and could clear out a good portion of my closet for a few months. Sure, it was frustrating at times, when nothing seemed to look or feel right (I think that’s just pregnancy), but if I stuck to my maternity staples, getting dressed was easy. Toward the end of my time being pregnant with Mara, I just resigned myself to the fact that I had about five dresses that I was going to rotate through until she was born. I don’t think anyone noticed or cared, least of all me.

When I pulled my normal wardrobe back into my closet, it was nice seeing some fresh items I hadn’t worn in so long, but it was also overwhelming. I am a clothes accumulator. It seems like no matter how many times I go through my closet and fill bags to donate, I still have so much that I don’t wear, yet I’m afraid to let go of it. And that can wear on me.

Starting June 1, I’m taking a minimalist wardrobe challenge. For six weeks, I’ll limit my entire wardrobe (including shoes, jewelry and accessories) to 33 items. You can read more about the challenge here. I’m going to blog about the experience for Fresh, the site I manage at work.

I don’t anticipate this to be a permanent change for me, but I think it will be a great opportunity to learn and grow, and hopefully make some positive changes to my wardrobe and life.

If you’re looking to simplify and think your wardrobe would be a good place to start, I’d love to have you join me in this! Here’s a form you can fill out to “officially” join the challenge. If you’re scared to commit… know that I am, too. But I think it will be worth it in the end (in fact, I’ve been told it’s worth it by several people who embrace a tiny wardrobe year-round).

Mara’s birth story

I am so happy to share Mara’s birth story with you – a story that didn’t unfold exactly as I expected (how could it?), but ended up even better than I could have imagined.

While my two childbirth experiences share a lot in common (both babies arrived two or three days shy of 37 weeks in labors that were five hours or less), I’m more struck by the differences between them. Corban’s birth story was somewhat dramatic. Mara’s definitely had its moments, but overall it was more like an episode of “Touched by an Angel” than “ER.” I think I prefer it that way!

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The story begins Saturday night, August 31. It was the day after our five-year wedding anniversary. We took advantage of the fact that Peter’s parents were in town and went out to the movies while they put Corban to bed.

At my 36-week doctor’s appointment earlier that week, my doctor had told me the baby’s head was lower than the week before and asked if I could feel the pressure in my pelvis. The answer then was “no,” but as I munched on buttered popcorn and sipped Cherry Coke during “The World’s End,” I definitely noticed it. On the drive home I told Peter I didn’t know how I could handle being pregnant for another three weeks if that were in store. I was just so uncomfortable.

We got home early enough to watch some “House Hunters” with Peter’s parents before retiring to bed. I had been bugging Peter to read a particular section of the Bradley Method book I was reading, so he finally read it while I perused another childbirth book and pointed out that I wanted to write down a birth plan in the next day or two.

At 2:20 a.m., Corban woke us up with a piercing cry. Peter attended to him while I lay in bed and started noticing some pretty strong contractions. I had felt similar contractions over the past several weeks, and thought if I could fall back asleep they would stop. As I dozed in and out of a light sleep for the next hour, never really falling back into slumber, I realized they were consistent, and they weren’t going away.

At that point, I told Peter what was happening. He tried to convince me I was just dehydrated from all the popcorn, and had me drink water and take some Tylenol. My doctor had said Tylenol “won’t touch” labor contractions, so if the pain didn’t go away I’d know it’s real labor. Peter also started Googling how to stop labor and suggested I drink a glass of wine. I did not indulge.

Another hour went by. This entire time, I was focused on remaining relaxed and comfortable through each contraction. I lay on my side on our bed with a pillow between my knees and consciously released tension, muscle by muscle, as each contraction hit. They were strong, and felt like deep cramps. I pictured what my body was doing — the cervix opening up for the baby — and tried to let it do just that.

This whole time Peter was timing the contractions using a phone app. At a consistent 40 seconds long and seven minutes apart, I knew there was no turning back and I needed to call my doctor.

I told myself I’d call at 5 a.m. Then as 5 a.m. approached, I started feeling like I had to use the bathroom. Between contractions and bathroom breaks, it was 5:15 a.m. when I finally made the call. The on-call doctor said it sounded like early labor and instructed me to come on in to the hospital. “Yay!” she groggily squealed to me.

I was excited, but not quite “yay” excited. This wasn’t exactly the timing we had planned on. I left work Friday after telling a colleague I hoped I had a good couple weeks left to iron things out there before maternity leave. And I was a bit nervous about what was coming in the hospital. I wanted a medication-free birth, and now was the time to put everything I’d learned and hoped for into action.

Peter admitted he was nervous — nervous that he wouldn’t be able to remember everything he’d read and be a supportive coach to me. We momentarily reversed roles and I assured him that he had nothing to worry about and had already been a great help.

At this point, contractions were more intense, and getting out of bed seemed to further intensify and encourage them. My hospital bag was packed except for a few last-minute items, so I lay in bed while Peter gathered things together and woke his parents to tell them what was going on (yay for not having to worry about childcare for Corban). I tried to get up to brush my teeth, change into the nightgown I had planned on wearing in the hospital, wash my face, find my glasses, etc., but each time I got out of bed a contraction would take me down or I’d need to use the bathroom. I wished I could just lie there. I finally understood the appeal of a home birth — if the doctor came here I wouldn’t have to pack up and ride to the hospital.

I had Peter take this as we headed out the door because he had refused to take a belly pic of me earlier that day and now this was our last chance. And I'm crazy.

I had Peter take this as we headed out the door because he had refused to take a belly pic of me earlier that day and now this was our last chance. And I’m crazy.

Finally, just before 6 a.m., we were in the car. Rick Jackson’s Country Countdown was on the radio — a show we listen to on Sunday mornings on the way to church. Peter sang along to Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons” (which always reminds me of this South Park scene in the episode from which our cat Biggles got his name) while I timed the increasingly close and long contractions. They were now more like four minutes apart, and seemed to ebb and flow in longer waves. A wave would wash over me, and just when I’d think it was peaking, another would crash in and prolong it. Peter slowed down at a stop sign and it felt like the longest deceleration in history as the seat belt pressed into my uterus.

The hospital parking lot was hugged in a pre-dawn fog that gave our walk inside from the car a dream-like air. I wished for a wheelchair to carry me down the endless empty hallway from the entrance to our elevator, but powered onward rather than asking for one.

We arrived at the administration desk on the labor and delivery floor around 6:20 a.m., and as I stood there to sign papers, a strong contraction doubled me over. Before I could put pen to paper, my water broke in an unmistakeable gush. “Clean up in aisle four,” Peter joked.

There was no laughing for me though. I needed to get checked into our room so I could lie down. A nurse quickly led us to a room and helped me get cleaned up in the bathroom. I struggled to get the words out to decline the hospital gown she offered while trying unsuccessfully to relax through a contraction that felt different than the others. I was starting to feel the urge to push.

I collapsed on the bed and attempted to resume the comfortable position I used at home. Hospital beds just can’t compare to your own king-size bed, though. Peter filled the nurse in on my desires — no IV, no meds, no interventions, etc. Apparently she had already been preparing whatever initial steps are necessary for an epidural, since (I was told later) about 95% of their patients ask for one. Suddenly her job got a lot easier.

I asked to have my cervix checked, knowing that I had to be frightfully dilated if I was feeling “pushy,” as they say. I asked Peter to get me some water. Then I realized the lights were shining full force and asked to have them dimmed. Anything to bring a bit of comfort. A nurse continued to question us while setting things up around the room and I became annoyed as my requests went unfulfilled, another contraction left me speechless and everyone seemed to be (from my perspective) pointlessly flitting around.

Finally I gathered the strength to insist someone check my cervix. The nurse did, and urgently told another nurse I had “nothing there,” aka 9 and 3/4 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced. “Is my doctor on her way?” I asked, only to learn she was just now being paged. At least they now understood how urgent the situation was becoming!

Meanwhile, the resident on the floor, Dr. M (in fact, the same resident who was there for Corban’s birth), came in and we went over some more details with him. I asked if it was bad to hold back on pushing if I felt the urge. He assured me it was actually good to let the baby engage as much as possible before starting to push, but if I couldn’t resist any longer he was there to deliver the baby. I requested a crash course on how to push, and Dr. M obliged.

I really wanted to wait until my doctor, Dr. L, arrived to start pushing, so each contraction I told myself I could wait one more. It was like having to hold it when you really, really have to pee. Not easy! When I finally decided this was it — I couldn’t wait any longer — Dr. L burst into the room (or at least that’s how it seemed to me) and I had a minute or two break in contractions to say hi.

This is the part of the story that seemed the most drastically different from Corban’s birth. During the pushing stage with Corban, I felt like a machine struggling to keep up. When I was told his heart rate was dropping and I needed to push harder, do better and get him out immediately I was (obviously) terrified. My role was to follow directions — when to push, how to push, when to stop.

With Mara’s birth, I felt completely in control. I had no contraction monitor dictating to the nurse when to dictate to me to push. Everyone around me appeared relaxed and no one told me to start or stop pushing. I just pushed when I felt like I needed to and stopped when it didn’t feel right. Peter stood on my right and a nurse on my left, holding my legs, counting through each contraction, dabbing my forehead with a cool cloth and encouraging me. Outside the room’s large windows I could see that the fog had lifted and the sun was turning the sky pink, and I for a split second I felt almost calm.

I focused all of my mind and strength on each push, relaxing my legs, holding my breath, bearing down in the right spot. Delivering a baby is most definitely an athletic endeavor! I knew the harder I worked with each contraction, the sooner it would be over.

I had read that you get about eight-minute breaks between contractions during the pushing phase, but experienced no such thing. After each push/contraction I had to will myself to relax as quickly and completely as possible, because it would only be a minute or less before I’d feel the overwhelming urge to push again. Apparently even this part of my labor experience happens in hyper-speed.

I can’t complain though. It was intense, with hardly a break, but after just 10 or 15 minutes, I was told this was it! Last push!

Of course the last one seemed the longest. After eight months of wondering whether our baby is a boy or girl, with just seconds to go before finding out, time seemed to slow down. The anticipation of knowing was at the forefront of my mind even through the pain, exhaustion and relief of knowing the end was imminent.

At 6:57 a.m., about 40 minutes after we arrived at the hospital, Mara entered the world and Dr. M held her up. “What is it, Dad?” he asked Peter.

Before Peter could reply, I saw the answer and cried, “It’s a girl!” Over and over, through tears, I repeated that joyous phrase. Dr. L made sure Mara came straight into my arms. Her slimy, white, alien body lay on me as Peter and I admired our daughter.

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After a few minutes, the nurses took Mara to be cleaned up and weighed at a station next to my bed. My work wasn’t over, as the doctors delivered the placenta, gave me a shot of Pitocin to jump start my uterus contracting back to its normal size and began to stitch up my minor tear. Mara came back to my arms to nurse while they worked, and continued long after they finished.

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I could have held her like that for hours more. The fact that we have a daughter still felt so novel and unexpected. I couldn’t quite believe it. The concept seemed so foreign.

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When compared to Corban’s first hours of life… talk about night and day (literally and figuratively). Corban was born at the end of the day and whisked off to the NICU, where I had to be pushed in a wheelchair to visit and nurse him every three hours throughout the night. Mara arrived at the dawn of a new day, which we spent in our room snuggling her close and admiring her perfect features in the bright natural light of a beautiful late summer day.

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Of course, there was nothing wrong with Corban, and after he was released from the NICU we enjoyed the same endless snuggles and bliss that a baby’s first day of life brings. But we are so grateful that Mara was healthy and her birth was completely natural and free of complications and interventions. I couldn’t have asked for a better birth experience and we count it as a huge blessing that it happened as it did.

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I know it may seem easy now for me to be an advocate of natural, medication- and intervention-free childbirth since my labor and delivery experiences have both been very fast, so I don’t feel like I’m in a place to preach. But I do want to encourage anyone who desires to go the natural route. It is so doable if you go in with knowledge, preparation and confidence. I am fully confident that even if my labor was twice as long and even more intense, the methods I learned from reading (no, skimming) one Bradley Method book along with the support of my wonderful husband would have still been all I needed to manage the pain. With my first pregnancy, I went into labor without enough knowledge of the birth process nor confidence in my own ability to effectively cope with the discomfort and unknowns of childbirth. This time I knew what to expect — and not even just from having experienced it once before. Truly, my reading during this pregnancy informed me on what I had experienced with Corban’s birth, and that’s when things started to click. I also owe a lot to my friend Litzy, who has been incredibly supportive and shared a lot of her knowledge to encourage me along this path.

Here is the book that helped me: “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way” by Susan McCutcheon. It’s not perfect and I don’t agree with every word in it, but it really was what equipped me the best for a natural birth.

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As with any baby, in the end it really doesn’t matter how she made her debut. As happy as I am with how her birth happened, the true joy is in Mara’s mere existence as my daughter.

It’s a…

…girl!

Mara June was born Sunday, Sept. 1 at 6:57 a.m.

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7 pounds and 20 inches despite arriving three weeks and two days before her due date. Apparently that’s the magic point in pregnancy where my body evicts the baby. Corban was born at almost the exact same point (one day earlier).

Mara is an absolute joy! Healthy, snuggly, sleepy. She nurses well (although I’m still in a good deal of pain from breastfeeding, but that’s for another post) and has spent almost her entire first week of life eating and sleeping (mostly sleeping).

I’m feeling well after a completely natural labor and delivery. Full birth story to come in a separate post, but I’ll tell you this right now: it was fast.

We are still adjusting to life as a family of four. My mom was here to help until Friday, and I don’t know how we would have managed without her here cooking, cleaning and – most importantly – taking care of Corban. Peter was able to work most of last week so he can take time off in the coming weeks as needed.

I was alone with the two little ones for the first time this evening for about 40 minutes while Peter ran to Home Depot. That doesn’t sound like a long time, but Corban had a major dinnertime meltdown possibly induced by the fact that I was wearing Mara in the Moby wrap, so it felt like hours.

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Corban is a little bit unpredictable around Mara. He is definitely interested in her and will touch her, give her kisses and ask to hold her (we have held her in his lap a few times while he pointed out her facial features and pet her head), but when he’s done, he’s done, and he doesn’t quite understand how small and fragile she is. He has been enjoying the fact that Peter and I (and Grandma Dee Dee) have been around all the time for the past week, but will at times get extra clingy, particularly when Peter holds Mara. I don’t know exactly what his comprehension level of the situation is at this point, but overall I think he is handling the new addition to our family really well.

This first week with Mara has been wonderful. Compared to our first week with Corban, I feel much more confident and relaxed as a mom. I’ve been trying to take it easy and enjoy this special time with my snuggly newborn and entertaining toddler. It still seems surreal that we now have a daughter! We feel so blessed!

My first maternity massage

This past weekend I enjoyed my first ever professional massage! And not just any massage, but a maternity massage.

Maternity massage… sounds amazing, right? At a time in your life when you’re feeling tense, in pain and just generally uncomfortable, what could help you relax better than a professional massage?

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.

But it didn’t end up being as glorious as I had imagined.

Embarrassing before and after pics.

Embarrassing before and after sefies.

Peter had given me a gift certificate to Neroli Spa (for a maternity massage) as an early Christmas gift when I was pregnant with Corban. Little C came just two weeks later, though, so I never ended up using it. This time, I vowed, I would schedule that massage before it was too late!

So at 35 weeks, I finally got a 35-minute maternity massage on the books. I was glad I had waited until later in pregnancy, because my lower back started aching and I just was feeling more uncomfortable than ever.

Essentially, a maternity massage is just a regular massage, but they have a special pad that you can lay on to accommodate your protruding belly. The masseuse warned me that it was highly possible I would start feeling short of breath or nauseous after some time lying on my stomach, so she would start with my lower back to make sure we got that in while I was still comfortable. Sure enough, after 10 minutes of bliss on my belly, I started to feel sick.

She had me turn around into a partially reclined position on my back, where she could still massage my neck, shoulders, head, etc. Again, I started out feeling great, but within a few minutes was feeling sick again – this time, I thought, due to the strongly scented oils.

She kindly wiped off the oil and proceeded again, but eventually I needed yet another break to sit fully up and drink some water.

While my neck, shoulders and head enjoyed amazing relaxation, I couldn’t fully appreciate it as I battled that horribly uncomfortable feeling of nausea that I thought I had left behind in the first trimester. I silently was thankful I hadn’t booked anything longer than 35 minutes.

How regretful to be treated to such bliss and not be able to enjoy it!

Apparently, this is common for pregnant women who come in for a massage. I’m sure there are some who have no issues, but sadly I was not one of them. It wasn’t a total bust – there were parts of the massage during which I felt fine and really enjoyed it, and afterward I sat in the relaxation room for quite a while with a lovely foot soak – but I will definitely wait until my body is back to normal before considering another massage.

I guess during pregnancy (especially at this late stage) there is only so much you can do to get comfortable, and a massage can only be as relaxing as your body allows. I don’t hold it against the spa or the masseuse at all (in fact, she was so kind as to give me 10% off, I’m guessing since she knew it wasn’t as wonderful as I was expecting). I did leave feeling much more relaxed and rejuvenated, just not as completely as I would have were I not pregnant.

Have you tried a maternity massage? Was your experience anything like mine?

Pregnancy #2: Home stretch

Tuesday will mark 36 weeks for baby #2, and I’m definitely feeling like I’m in the home stretch. Nesting has officially kicked in and my perfectly painted nails that I spent so much time on Thursday night are already wearing away from all the scrubbing.

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Since Corban made his debut at 36 weeks, 4 days, I feel like I need to be mentally prepared for this baby to come early too. My doctor has said there’s no indication this baby WILL come early, but after being taken by surprise the first time it’s hard to just relax as I approach 36 weeks!

This means I’ve finally made some good progress on all my pregnancy-related to do lists: got a haircut, had maternity photos taken, went shopping for nursing and hospital supplies, packed my hospital bag, got a maternity massage (more on that tomorrow!), completely cleared out our old office (Corban’s soon-to-be big boy bedroom), did some practice labor relaxation exercises with Peter, opened my disability claim at work for maternity leave, unpacked and washed newborn clothes and did lots of cleaning and organizing around the house (although to an outsider it probably looks just as messy as always). That was all in the past week!

I’m also physically feeling like I’m in the home stretch. I have contractions every day and need (like, *need*) to sit down with a glass of water if I’ve been on my feet too much (see above list…). My lower back has started to ache, and it’s just not easy to carry Corban or keep up with his joyful antics like I used to. Getting comfortable in general is not easy. My feet have definitely started to swell, but thankfully it’s not noticeable to anyone else, and they’re nowhere near as hideous as they were with pregnancy #1. I’ll spare you a link back to that picture.

Here’s a pic from almost two weeks ago. I can’t seem to time the photography and blog posting to line up…

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I was up 18 pounds at my 35-week checkup. That’s definitely less than I gained at this point with Corban, but comparing photos at 34 weeks, the bump is no smaller. Maybe it was all the foot-swelling last time…

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Although we didn’t take a childbirth class with this pregnancy, I’ve thought a lot more about what I would like the labor and delivery to be like this time. I am not at all nervous about childbirth, partially because I’ve been through it before so I know what to expect (in general), but also because I have a better idea of what I can do to make it more comfortable and a more intentional plan for how to make that happen.

I’ve mentioned before that my goal is to have a birth free from medicine or other interventions. The more I read about natural childbirth, the more I realize that Corban’s birth was far from intervention-free, although I felt like it was fairly “natural.” With Corban, I had an IV in the entire time, a tiny bit of pain meds in the IV at the end, an episiotomy and a vacuum-assisted delivery. All of that (except the pain meds) was not by choice, but because I was told it was medically necessary. Of course at the time I wasn’t going to argue with my doctor when she told me the baby was in distress and I would need an episiotomy and vacuum to get him out as quickly as possible. Corban ended up being perfectly healthy, and looking back I have no way of knowing if my doctor was being smart or unnecessarily cautious with those interventions.

This time, I’ve talked with my (new) doctor about episiotomies (she doesn’t do them except in extreme cases where the baby is in distress), IVs, monitors and other interventions. I’ve thought about what was uncomfortable about labor last time, and the IV and hospital gown are at the top of the list of controllable factors. I was super hot and uncomfortable and felt trapped in my jungle of IV cords, contraction monitor and two hospital gowns (why two?!).

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The IV was kind of unavoidable last time since my Group B Strep test results weren’t back yet (I had had the test two days prior) so I needed to have antibiotics administered as a precaution. They also told me I was dehydrated and would need fluids through the IV. This time, I got the strep test done at 35 weeks, and I’m in the clear. I’ve also been very diligent about drinking lots of water – and, to be honest, if they tell me I’m dehydrated when I check into the hospital I’ll decline the IV and just chug water. I think this will make everything SO much more comfortable! I mean… considering it’s childbirth.

I also bought a cute, comfy maternity nightgown that I plan to wear instead of the hospital gown. Such a small thing, but I think it will make a big difference.

I borrowed some books from my friend Litzy, who is a natural childbirth guru after having her first baby in May, and talking with her and reading up on the Bradley Method has made me feel more confident about natural labor. I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the book (can someone please write a pregnancy or parenting book that doesn’t spend just as much time bashing people who disagree with their methods as it does explaining what their methods are? I have found this to be the universal annoyance with ALL books on these topics!), but I like how positive the author is that with proper relaxation and pain management techniques you most certainly can have a natural childbirth without a problem. I definitely plan on employing some relaxation tips from the Bradley way of thinking. Peter is not too excited that the book recommends that the husband massage the wife’s lower back for hours on end during labor. He should be thankful that my first labor was way short, which means this one could likely be short too!

I do actually plan on writing a birth plan this time. Not a “this is how my childbirth experience must go!” plan, but more of a “here are my preferences” plan so I don’t forget to communicate something to the nurses.

So, that’s what’s been on my mind this past week or two. Nothing but work (a whole other set of to-do lists!), enjoying summer with Corban and PREGNANCY/CHILDBIRTH.

7 thoughts at 7 months pregnant

My due date is two months from yesterday. That seems like both a very short time and a very long time.

Here’s what’s on my mind:

1) I actually went through the entire day yesterday thinking today was July 24 and telling people my due date was two months from today. I was in serious shock and disbelief to learn that today is in fact July 25. It’s cool to just blame pregnancy brain for being a day behind, right?

2) My excitement to meet this child is growing – a lot. I just want to know – boy or girl? And I want to hold my dear baby and see him or her, and enjoy a sweet, tiny newborn.

3) My fear of being a mom of two babies is also growing. At this point, I just do not have the emotional or physical energy to keep up with Corban after working all day, and I know waking up six times a night with a newborn is 10 times harder than being pregnant. So I’m sure everything will be a bit challenging at first, although I won’t be working… which brings me to my next thought…

4) I keep thinking once I’m on maternity leave I’ll have time to do all the junk around the house that is currently neglected because I have no energy beyond working 40 hours a week and scraping by as a mom. Am I crazy? I also have this idea that I will be able to attend playdates and go out and do typical mom things that happen during working hours. I probably am crazy.

5) I joined a fitness challenge with a few other moms (basically we just set goals for ourselves each week and then get points for meeting them) and it has been really motivating for me to be consistent with what I know I should be doing to prepare for labor and the end of pregnancy. My goals seem really silly compared to my pre-motherhood athletic endeavors, but they are important and make me feel healthier. I’m focusing on walking, squats, pelvic floor exercises, sitting on an exercise ball (yes, sitting is considered exercise for me at this point, haha), drinking water, eating vegetables and getting enough protein in my diet.

6) I really desire to have a natural labor and delivery this time. I almost did with Corban (had a tiny bit of painkiller in the IV at the end), but I didn’t really have any intentions one way or another regarding meds (other than let’s see how I feel and then decide). But now I’m feeling more drawn to do it the old-fashioned way and do whatever I can to prepare myself for that. That means it’s time to check out some natural childbirth books from the library. Any recommendations?

7) I drank a beer tonight. This beer, specifically, and I don’t know if it’s just because I haven’t had a beer in roughly six months, but it tasted amazing. [And no, it will not give my child fetal alcohol syndrome. My doctor has sanctioned an occasional alcoholic beverage in the third trimester.]

Baby #2: 30 weeks pregnant

I’m seriously in denial that I have not only entered my third trimester, but hit the 30-week mark.

This is pretty much the home stretch. It’s doctor’s appointments every two weeks now and I’m feeling every bit of 30 weeks pregnant.

Most people assume I’m so over the heat (it’s actually been in the 90s here in Milwaukee) and that I’m ready for this pregnancy to be over with. Actually, not at all. Maybe if I didn’t spend most of my day in an air conditioned office building I’d be bothered by the heat, but unfortunately I do. I’ve just been taking it easy when outside on the weekends and after work. Drink lots of water. Sit in the shade. It’s not that bad.

And I’m definitely not ready for this baby to come just yet. My due date coincides quite inconveniently with a big project I’m working on at work, so my growing belly is a constant reminder of the time crunch I’m under to get it done. Take your time, child. You have my permission to come a little late, even. But not too late.

Work projects aside, I’m eager to meet this little one. The first few days of Corban’s life were the most amazing days of my life thus far, and I look forward to experiencing that unmatchable joy again. And… boy? Girl? Which will it be? What will he or she be like? How will he/she fit into my heart and into our family? I can’t wait to know the answers to those questions.

30weeks

Yup. The belly is large. I swear, this happened overnight.

Physical ailments…

I think my feet are starting to swell a bit (last time they got scary swollen near the end), but I can still get my wedding rings off without a problem, so +1 for that.

I have the unfortunate luck this time of being plagued by the dreaded mask of pregnancy, a.k.a. dark spots on my face kind of like sun spots (they get darker in the sun, too). And, yup, on my upper lip. Awesome. And a little on my nose, which isn’t so bad.

On the plus side, my eyes haven’t been as itchy as they were with Baby #1. I do think I’ve developed a mild pregnancy-induced allergy to our cats, though. I thought maybe it was just general pregnancy congestion and sneezing, but it magically went away while we were on vacation for 10 days, and came back as soon as we got home to our kitties. Side note: when I was pregnant with Corban I couldn’t imagine loving any baby more than our fur babies. Now I can’t imagine how I possibly felt that way. The poor cats have fallen far in household hierarchy.

My energy levels were high for all of the second trimester, but not so much anymore. I’ve hit the point in pregnancy where every morning feels like a hangover, and no amount of sleep feels like enough. Getting out of bed is an undertaking, and I usually am short of breath for the first minute or so.

On the positive side…

This baby is active! I enjoy lots of kicks. Fun.

My skin has been much better this time around. It was really bad when I was pregnant with Corban – embarrassingly so. I don’t know if it’s just different hormones or if the fact that I started washing my face with a Clarisonic brush has made a difference, but I am so thankful that I haven’t had too many skin problems with this pregnancy.

My favorite pregnancy side effect this time is that I can go days without washing my hair… and it doesn’t get greasy. It saves so much time in the mornings, only having to wash my hair once every 3-4 days.

In other news…

We went on vacation to Branson, Mo., with Peter’s family over the 4th of July, and I encountered some of my first physical limitations of this pregnancy. We went to Silver Dollar City, a theme park – no roller coasters for me. Also, pushing a stroller around on those hills in the heat is brutal.

One morning Peter and I played 12 games of tennis. Bending down to pick up balls was not much fun, but otherwise it was great. Until the end, when I suddenly felt like I was going to either pass out or throw up.

And I thought nothing of signing up to play on a sand volleyball team in the bi-annual Sherwood family tournament (at their family reunion). Of course I would play. But the day of the tournament was 90+ degrees and sunny and, honestly, I wasn’t disappointed when I was told not to play. Sitting in the shade felt like a killer workout that day.

Time to come to grips with the reality that I can’t do everything I normally can. Although that probably won’t stop me from trying…. (tailgating at two Brewers games this weekend and planning to go camping and canoeing in a couple weeks).

Last pregnancy at this time…

At 30 weeks when I was pregnant with Corban, I had my first baby shower!

30weeks2

I think the bump looks smaller there than my current bump, but that dress can be deceiving.

Last time at this point, I had gained 18.5 pounds. I was up 16 pounds at my appointment last Friday, but I still think I feel bigger this time. Or maybe it’s just the heat.

Pregnancy #2: 24 weeks

That number of weeks just keeps creeping up on me. Soon I’ll be starting the third trimester – I’m not ready for that yet!

On one hand, I am super excited to meet this little one. I know just how amazing it is to hold a tiny newborn – my tiny newborn – and I am looking forward to that day with this baby. I feel more prepared and relaxed about the logistics of taking care of a new baby this time around.

But on the other hand, I have a massive deadline at work not long before my due date (each week that ticks closer to baby’s arrival also counts down to that) and, unrelated, we just haven’t really done much to prepare our house for this transition. That basically means moving our current office into the basement and creating a bedroom for Corban in that room. It’s more daunting than it seems and I’m almost paralyzed as to how to begin the whole process. We’re also finally starting to see some nice weather here after a miserable winter and spring, so it’s hard to focus on that kind of work on the weekends when there’s yardwork, festivals and fun to be had outdoors.

I think it will help to first make a big list of everything that needs to be done, broken down into manageable tasks, and then start chipping away at it on weeknights.

Here’s a pic from last week at a few days past 23 weeks:

23weeks

Definitely have popped! Here’s my last photo:

19weeks

Physically, I’ve been feeling relatively good these past few weeks. My energy levels have been high and I haven’t felt too limited by my body. I am starting to notice more of the annoying pregnancy symptoms that I remember from last time, though: itchy eyes, constant congestion, decreased lung capacity, bad skin, aches and pains. My leg pain I wrote about in my last update seemed to subside after I took a yoga class, and my doctor thought it was probably just a muscle strain. Corban is getting harder for me to carry – probably also due to his increasing weight.

Although I have not had the most active pregnancy this time around, this baby sure is active! I feel lots of kicks and enjoy every single one. Although, sometimes it’s distracting, like when we were at the movies last night or when I was in a meeting today.

My appetite is still a bit off and I’m sure it will continue this way until the baby is born. I cope by listening to my cravings and planning meals accordingly. This usually involves lots of cheese.

We finally are making some good progress with baby names. Up until the past couple weeks I’ve felt lukewarm about seemingly every name there is, but Peter and I spent a great deal of our car ride to Missouri and back over Memorial Day weekend discussing names, and we now have a good list of possibilities for this baby and any future children. I am extremely picky about certain things when it comes to names, and have a bunch of unofficial rules I can’t bring myself to break regarding first letters, endings, styles and how all the family names sound together. I’m actually really excited about the names on our list because they fit together so nicely.

Tomorrow I turn 27 and will spend the day with Corban, at a playdate and perhaps some other adventures. I took the day off work with no intention of doing anything crazy. I don’t even really have the desire to relax (which wouldn’t be possible with C-boy, anyway). I just want to have a normal day doing fun stuff with my son. I plan to take a few more days off this summer for the same reason. He only has a few more months as an only child so we need to live it up!

Last pregnancy at this time…

Last time at 24 weeks, it was the week of Labor Day. I had an energetic week – did a bunch of meal prep and freezing, worked out three times (including Body Pump – go me!), went to a maternity store for the first time to buy a coat and went out for karaoke on that Saturday night. I had gained 13 pounds at that point, compared to 10 or 11 this time.

Sadly, Body Pump and karaoke have not been a part of my life recently, but this time around I get to enjoy Corban kisses, and that’s even better!

Halfway through pregnancy #2

Tuesday marks 20 weeks – the halfway point – of this pregnancy! (Or, if the baby comes early, like Corban did, we’re already more than halfway there. Eek.)

While the first trimester seemed to drag on and on (feeling sick all the time seems to have that effect), the second trimester has sped by so far.

I jumped right into wearing maternity clothes at the start of the second trimester. I still wear some non-maternity tops (some maternity shirts look pretty baggy on me still) but maternity is a must for pants now.

Physically, I’ve felt pretty normal for the second trimester thus far. My appetite came back as soon as I hit 13 weeks and I enjoyed tons of great food while on vacation in Charleston, SC. Since then, appetite, cravings and aversions have slowly become more hit or miss. I’ve started to notice, like during my last pregnancy, that some of my favorite foods just don’t taste as great as they normally do. I think my taste buds are just a little off. Bummer.

I’m just starting to notice more aches and pains that come with a growing belly. New to the list this time is an intense pain in my groin and inner left thigh whenever I move my legs to get out of bed or lift my left leg (like to put pants on or sometimes even to walk). I Google-diagnosed myself with Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, which essentially is pain associated with a joint in your pelvis widening more than it should during pregnancy. It doesn’t seem serious, but I am not looking forward to spending the next 20 weeks with it. Has anyone else dealt with this? Don’t worry – I will be asking my doctor about it at my next appointment.

On to the fun part…  here’s a peek at the growing bump, and the growing big brother alongside it.

8weeks

11weeks

19weeks

Note Corban’s changes from pre-first haircut to post-haircut to the present, with his shagginess back again (I love it).

We got to see the little one this past week via ultrasound. That, plus my growing belly, makes this all seem a bit more real.

sonogram-19weeks

The day before the ultrasound, I realized I really want to find out whether this baby is a boy or a girl. We didn’t find out with Corban, and I loved every minute of the suspense and surprise. But this time, it’s different. We are pretty much ready for the baby as far as gear is concerned (we just did this, after all) and we know generally what to expect (although every child is different, yada yada yada). So finding out the sex is just more at the forefront of my mind this time. I want to imagine the sibling dynamic, to shop for baby girl clothes if it’s a girl, to go through all of Corban’s old clothes if it’s a boy. I just have a stronger desire to immediately satisfy my curiosity this time.

Alas, since I came to this realization a mere 24 hours before the ultrasound, I was not able to convince Peter or myself to change the game plan and find out. So another surprise it is. (Unless we have another ultrasound at some point :))

Emotionally, I am just starting to really think about this baby and the changes that will come to our family. I am so excited to once again experience the joy of bringing a new life into the world. I love that our family is growing, and I can’t wait to see Corban interact with the new baby.

At the same time, I’m overwhelmed by the thought of having another child. In my mom’s words, “One is like none and two is like ten.” So far, Corban really has felt as close to “none” as possible. He was such an easygoing infant and continues to have an easy demeanor. But even if we are blessed with two Corbans, our world will be significantly more complicated. Just leaving the house will be much more challenging. Parents of two or more kids, how scared should we be?

It’s also starting to hit me that we actually do have some major things to do before the baby arrives. Like move our super messy, cluttered office into the basement and set up Corban’s new big boy room. The weeks just keep coming and going, but in the next month or so we’ll need to schedule some significant time to focus on those tasks. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

4.5 months down. 4.5 months to go. Time to get moving!

Some news

If you know me in real life or on Facebook, then this is old news by now. But if not, I’ve got some exciting new news!

I am 15 weeks along (holy cow!). This pregnancy has been quite different from my first so far, and not in a good way. I could barely eat during the first trimester — everything made me feel sick. It was so bad at one point that I stayed home from work one day, which I’ve never done before.

But right when I hit 13 weeks the clouds seemed to part and my second trimester came as a warm welcome. Now I’ve got newfound energy, a healthy appetite, and honestly, I just feel normal again. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts!

Mini-bump beginning to emerge

Mini-bump beginning to emerge

There are some other differences this time around, in addition to the enhanced morning sickness. For instance:

  • I haven’t been journaling every day and recording symptoms/thoughts/etc.
  • I’ve only taken two official bump photos.
  • I ate a ham sandwich at the airport on Sunday and was like, eh, lunchmeat, I’m sure I’ll be fine
  • I drank a small glass of dry (alcoholic) cider while on vacation, and many sips of others’ wine and cocktails (this was after I hit the second trimester)
  • I haven’t read any of those “your baby is the size of a lemon” updates or downloaded any pregnancy apps
  • I’ve already switched to maternity pants and wore my first maternity sweater the other day (partially this is because my maternity jeans are really cute and comfy, and I want to get use of my winter maternity gear while it’s still unbearably cold)

Just a little bit more laid back this time. I think the main difference, though, is that the first time around I was all-consumed by the pregnancy and ME being pregnant. I couldn’t possibly understand or appreciate what life would be like when the pregnancy stage was over and we had a baby. In some ways, I enjoyed pregnancy because it was this grand anticipation of something unknown, life-altering and slightly scary. It was all I knew at that point.

But now that I’ve been through it all, I have a better grasp on the fact that the pregnancy is just one small part – and not even the most fun part. I will do my best to enjoy this pregnancy as much as I (yes) enjoyed my first, but now that I know how great the prize is at the end, it’s hard not to see pregnancy as kind of a burden to get through (especially when you have morning sickness or when you remember how swollen your feet were in the third trimester). I was just getting used to not being pregnant and not nursing/pumping around the clock when we found out I was pregnant again, so for selfish reasons I wish I could enjoy my normal body for a while. But we chose to have our second be close in age with Corban, and I know that is a good thing (for them if not for us).

So although I’m not as excited for the physical aspect of pregnancy this time around, I think I’m more excited about having a baby (if that makes sense). Knowing how wonderful each stage of new life is makes me happy in a way that I couldn’t understand or imagine before becoming a mom.

Here we go again!